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Israel moves forward with plans to export natural gas to neighbouring countries

Israel has confirmed plans to start working on a pipeline to export natural gas to Jordan via the Dead Sea, informed Israeli sources told Bloomberg earlier this week.


Work on the 15 km (9 mile) pipeline is expected to start in 2015 and will be completed in 2016. Israel plans to export gas produced from the offshore Leviathan field to Jordan.

The sources said that the new pipeline will start at Sodom and be an extension to an existing link that brings gas to the Dead Sea Works Ltd., a chemical plant there.

Several Israeli news outlets made reference last year to secret deals between Israel and Jordan in this regard. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) first published the story in December 2013, calling the issue "politically sensitive".

The International Institute of Strategic Studies has pointed out that "the discovery of the natural gas [fields have] complicated rivalries in the eastern Mediterranean, an area already full of long-standing security issues."

The WSJ said that Israel's Delek Group and Noble Energy in the US, which are developing the field, were commissioned to discuss the deal with Jordan on behalf of Israel. Jordan is reportedly planning to import gas from Israel to supply the Arab Potash Company (APC), a fertiliser company with a plant in Jordan.

Jordan has been suffering from gas shortages since the deposition of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, when Egypt was plunged into severe chaos. Unidentified militias have exploited the situation several times and attacked the pipeline used transfer Egyptian gas to Israel and Jordan.

Israel's claims to the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields have been contested by the Palestinian, Lebanese and Egyptian governments. Even Turkey and Greece have been concerned about the undersea gas discoveries.

For example, Egypt argues that Leviathan, the larger of the two fields, is closer to the Egyptian city of Damietta, at 190 km, than to the Israeli city of Haifa, at 235 km.

Of course, the Palestinian Authority, whose territories lie in the area between Damietta and the gas field, also contests Israel's ownership of the natural gas. Globalresearch.ca reported last year that "Palestine accuses Israel of outright stealing the gas from the Gaza Strip."

Regarding the future market for the gas, Arab 21 reported two Jordanian officials denying information that Jordan is to export natural gas from Israel. They even expressed their doubts that Israel would be able to export liquefied natural gas at all.

Bloomberg reported that the chairman of Jordan's APC, Jamal Sarayreh, had declined to comment on the issue when contacted last week.

Earlier this week, The Marker, which is the economic edition of Israel's Haaretz newspaper, revealed that the Palestine Power Generation Company has agreed to buy $1.2 billion worth of natural gas from Israel for a power plant it is developing near Jenin.

According to Bloomberg, Noble's Chief Executive Officer Charles Davidson said in November the company would prefer to export Israeli gas to neighbouring countries than to the Far East, which would require seaborne-tanker shipments.

"We will be able to market more gas regionally at a lower capital cost," Davidson told Bloomberg, "because all of these regional markets are basically using pipes, and in some instances they are connecting the pipes that already exist."

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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